How Do Vertical Blinds Work?

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Large windows and glass doors can provide bright, natural sunlight for your home, but they give the outside world a clear view of your house. The simple solution to covering your windows and glass doors are vertical blinds. They're easy to operate, provide convenient opening and closing to allow for the light conditions that you want at any given time, and easily slide out of the way so you can use the door or open the window. Whether you're trying to troubleshoot and repair blinds that aren't working or you're just curious, deciphering how blinds work can be a bit confusing.

How Do Vertical Blinds Work?
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Easy Slide

A simple pull and voila! Your vertical blinds include a sliding mechanism that allows you to slide them out of the way so that you can open a door or window. But how does it work? Each individual blind vane is attached to a sliding piece that is inserted into the track that runs along the head rail of the blinds. When you pull the blind wand open or closed, the blinds slide in unison one way or the other on the track. Before sliding out of the way, you should be sure that the blinds are open so that they don't get stuck together and impede motion.

Turn on a Dime

The second operation of blinds involves turning the blinds open to let light in or closed to keep light out. This operation is a bit more complex, but it's still pretty simple to assess. The blind wand is attached to a gear mechanism. When you turn the blind wand, the gear turns and causes the axle that runs the length of the head rail to turn. Each blind is also connected to a small gear mechanism that is turned by the spinning axle. The result is that each blind vane is opened or closed by its individual gear. This allows you to turn the blinds with a pulling motion.

Turning Repair

Like any home product, vertical blinds can tangle or break with normal wear and use. The turning function is particularly prone to sticking and breakage. Gears wear easily, and once the teeth on a gear wear down, the blinds won't operate properly. If none of the blinds are working and the axle is not moving, first check to make sure that all the individual vanes are properly aligned and facing the same direction. Sometimes vanes face the wrong direction and prevent proper turning. If this isn't your issue, there's likely a problem with the gear box attached to the blind wand. Remove the wand and try repairing or replacing the box. Make sure that the gear is properly aligned. If it is just one blind piece that isn't turning, the problem is probably a stripped gear on that blind. Adjust or replace the gear. Contact the manufacturer of your blinds for warranty or parts if needed.

Sliding Repair

A possible issue with sliding is that the blinds won't properly slide closed. Since each blind vane is linked to the track individually, they won't slide in unison if they become disconnected. While they will still slide open, since one blind will push the next, they may not slide back closed. In this case your blind wand may just slide on its own without pulling the actual blinds. There is usually a thin wire that connects each blind slider with the next located over the metal axle. If the blinds aren't working, the wire is probably disconnected or broken and should be replaced.

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Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.